How to Instill Empathy in A Child

How to Instill Empathy in A Child

Empathy: An Important Life Skill

Empathy, the ability to place yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand how they feel - is one of the more important skills a person could have. It’s not a skill parents tend to actively instill within their children, despite it being difficult to develop. However, it is such a valuable skill to have especially during your adult life, as it plays a part in sustaining your familial and social relationships. With this is mind, it is key to start instilling empathy into your children from a young age. Let’s take a look at some tips on how to instill empathy in a child.  

 Show empathy to your children 

This may seem obvious, but one of the best ways to instil empathy into your children is by exhibiting it yourself. Parents are often the first role models a child has, and so showing empathetic behaviour can help them model it themselves. 

 Talk about other people’s feelings 

If for example one of your children takes the toy of another, making them upset, instead of just telling them to give the toy back, point out the emotions the other child is feeling. Point out to them that they made their sibling sad and ask how they would feel if that happened to them.  

 Help them understand what “I’m sorry” really means 

Many times, when a child may do something wrong or unintentionally upset someone, parents would have them say sorry to correct their mistake. While this may feel like it’s the right thing to do, it doesn’t teach children what it actually means to be sorry. Instead of just saying sorry, walk them through the emotions the upset person may be feeling. “Adam look at Sarah, she’s crying, and she’s rubbing her arm where you pushed her – let’s go and make sure she’s ok”. This type of dialogue helps a child understand how their actions have affected someone negatively, and also know how to mend the situation. This is definitely one of the best tips on how to instill empathy in a child. 

 Take them out for volunteering and charity work 

Every parent without a doubt aspires to give their children the best in life – comfortable living and a secure future. However, sometimes in the process of this we may shelter our children from the harsh realities of the world - in the form of poverty, hunger, etc. Taking them out to volunteer at the local food drive for example, can provide perspective on how difficult others’ lives can be - and with that a higher degree of empathy.  

How to instill empathy in a child can sometimes be difficult, however it is no doubt one of the most important life skills a person could have. It’s necessary for a good social life, familial life, and for maintaining healthy relationships in general. Instilling this within your children from an early age ensures that they develop this complex but important skill for their adulthood. We hope that this article helped in doing so.  

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This article contains general information regarding health and well-being. This information is not intended as advice and should not be treated as such. You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to advice from medical or educational professionals.